Indian defeat incomprehensible

Written by: S K Sham
Published: Monday, October 30, 2000, 17:45 [IST]
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King Nero fiddles while Rome burns. The utter disdain for stark realities in this parable could not have been more unfortunately related to the efforts of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to seek the appointment of a foreign coach, even as the performance of the Indian team dips to an unprecedented low.

Two foreign coaches have come and gone, after having presented their credentials to a panel that cannot, by any stretch of imagination, be described as qualified to test, leave side select, anyone of them. A third, whose yes-and-no antics have bewildered many to the point of questioning his commitment, may have appeared before the BCCI selection board by the time this appears on your screen.

While cricket-lovers are as shell-shocked, as much as are the members of the Indian team, by what must surely rank as the poorest performance by the national side ever in the history of limited-overs cricket, the higher echelons of the BCCI continue to issue statements on when, how and why, a foreign coach will be appointed.

Some amongst the wise men who run the cricket administration, might even use the present dismal status of the Indian team to justify the appointment of a foreign coach, even at a cost that will be as staggering as any we have seen so far anywhere.

To be bowled out for a mere 54 is as shameful as anything we have seen in the history of Indian cricket, and, on several counts, more ignominious than being shot out for 43 in a Test innings in England in 1974.

Anyway, 54 is the lowest total, as the statistics of cricket at Sharjah would reveal, one less than the 55 that India's tormentors, Sri Lanka had scored against the West Indies in 1986. Looking at the World Cup records, the poor effort of 54 is only shade less humiliating than the lowest total of 45 recorded by nonentities Canada against England at Old Trafford in 1979.

That a strong Indian batting side should be reduced to a nondescript pulp by a Sri Lankan attack that, despite the presence of world's best off-spinner, is not anywhere near the best in the world, as disgraceful, as it is incomprehensible.

For a side that had squarely beaten two of the strongest teams in world cricket, South Africa and Australia, just about two weeks ago, the displays at Sharjah must indeed come as a great shock. Having struggled to beat Zimbabwe in both the encounters, India were soundly thrashed by Sri Lanka in all three encounters, the last one being a total no-contest.

Let us take a close look at the graph charted by the Indian team led by Saurav Ganguly in the last four weeks of international cricket. We beat Kenya, then South Africa and Australia, to soar to great heights and also herald the arrival of two outstanding new-comers in batsman Yuvraj Singh and pace bowler Zaheer Khan. Indian cricket had never had it so good for a long, long time,

The magnificent run, however, was short-lived. The dream-run was halted by less-fancied New Zealand in the ICC (International Cricket Counil) Knock Out final. Disappointing though the display by India was, there was some consolation in the fact that the Indian team had lost narrowly in a thrilling finale, which was philosophically taken as being so much a part and parcel of limited-overs cricket.

But somehow, the rot made deeper inroads as the Indian team reached Sharjah. Zimbabwe proved a hot nut to crack. Then we were soundly beaten by Sri Lanka, on both the occasions and even more hopelessly a third time, in the final.

The depths of despair was not only in the lowest total ever, but also in the margin of defeat (245) which is the biggest ever sustained by an Indian team in this form of cricket.

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